How to deal with people disrespecting Hawaiians

I’m unsure if you have come across my infamous Sea Life Park video and blog post expressing my personal view on their dolphin show. Long story short, the video had gone fairly viral throughout the community. Most of the feedback I received was positive, but there was also some pushback. Both types of feedback  I value wholeheartedly and it has led me to the following conclusion…

If you are going to criticize the way someone else uses Hawaiian language and culture, do this one thing first - ask them, “how”, “who”, or” why?”.

In my experience with Sea Life Park, it was brought to my attention after I had shared my views that a Native Hawaiian was in fact a part of the making of their show.

Does that change my opinion of the show? No. But it does change my approach to addressing my concerns.

Why? 

Because it has never been nor will it ever be my intention to tear down other Hawaiians or to judge how they do their best to perpetuate Hawaiian Language and culture. While I have strong opinions on how to live, love and perpetuate Hawaiian Language and culture, I am only one Hawaiian. I have no authority or desire to tell other Hawaiians how to be Hawaiian. I would rather help Hawaiians to learn more about their language and culture and then help them find ways to share and perpetuate those things.

What does that look like? A whole lot of educating myself first and then sharing what I learn with others.

In educating Hawaiians, I feel it’s NOT my responsibility to tell them what they should know, but rather to give them an opportunity to learn the things that I know too. I can do that by sharing what I am learning.

In educating non-Hawaiians, I feel that it IS my responsibility to show and teach them how to be respectful of our culture. I can do that by listening first and then responding with more fact than emotion.

With all of that being said, I have been working to provide some tools to help fix the problem. This will take some time, so please be patient with me, but until I am able to provide more available resources, here is what I’m doing next, and what you can do now, if you see a business or non-business that you feel (you being a Hawaiian who cares) is misrepresenting the Hawaiian language and culture for profit or attention. You can copy and paste this and fill in the blanks (and grammar check it too lol). 

 

Aloha no kaua,

My name is ________. I am a native Hawaiian, meaning my family has genealogical ties to the islands of Hawaii and my ancestors were the first to inhabit and love the land. This connection that I have with Hawaii, runs in my veins, and is something I am very proud of.

I went to visit/walked by/saw/heard/etc. your business/spa/hotel/movie/etc. and there were a few things that concerned me with your use of Hawaiian culture/language/etc. I will describe them for you here:

  • (State facts and physical observations here. It is important to clarify only upon things that can be proven. Try to leave your emotions out of it - remember - you may not have the full scope of their company in its entirety)
  • Ex: The name of your company is Aloha Toilets and you throw “Aloha Toilets” on billboards, cars, vans, shirts, etc.

(Then explain your concerns) Being that the definition of Aloha is, “love, compassion, empathy, kindness, and much more,” I was wondering how you came to use the word Aloha for your toilet business and why?

I look forward to discussing my concerns with you. The use of my language and culture is something I strive to protect. I hope to be a resource and bring clarification to this matter. If I am unable to properly answer any questions or concerns you may have, I would enjoy the opportunity to guide you toward a trusted resource who can. 

Please respond to me at your earliest convenience by email. Here is the best email to reach me by: ____________.

Mahalo,

________________ Date: ____________________

 

Now back to you, ku'u lahui, I'm sending you all my love and prayers as you navigate this process. May it be a process that leads to healing for you and for others.

-Emily

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